Last Updated on by Editor
If you already read our article The Top 10 Most Incredible Train Trips in the World, you probably noticed that a lot of these amazing train trips are in Europe. Why is that?
Well, Europe has a massive train network used not only for daily commutes but also for travel between European countries. On top of that, the continent itself is beautiful, with mountain chains such as the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Carpathians. Add these to limitless lakes and all kinds of charming cities and villages (from medieval to modern), and traveling by train in Europe becomes an attraction in itself.
And, if you are visiting Europe, the best way to explore its gorgeous scenery by train is to use train passes (more commonly known as Eurail or Europass)! Whether you are a backpacker or a luxury traveler, these train passes are worth looking into.
How to buy European Train Passes
To buy European train passes, there are several options for companies and websites. There are also a variety of different passes which normally differ in the following:
- Number of countries where the pass is valid
- Number of days the pass is valid
- How many days within a certain period of time that you can actually use the pass and travel on a train
So, for example, you can buy a European train pass valid in 3 countries that allows you to use the train 4 days over the course of 1 month for a couple of hundred dollars. Or, you could buy a pass that is valid in 28 countries that allows you to use the train 13 days over the course of 3 months for around $ 1,000 USD.
You have hundreds of different European train passes that can be easily suited for your travel needs. You just need to research your options!
Where to buy European Train Passes
There are two ways you can buy them. The first is to purchase directly at large train stations in Europe. Ideally, you’ll have already done your research so you’ll know what you want to buy. However, keep in mind that there are some passes that you can only purchase when you’re still in your home country.
That’s just one reason why I think the other option is more practical: research, compare, and buy online before your trip starts. In the majority of cases, the tickets will be sent to your house by mail before your trip. But in order to receive your tickets in time, keep in mind that you’ll have to plan ahead for this option!
Also pay careful attention to the rules, such as whether you still have to reserve a seat on the train as well as other additional costs (for example, certain routes that won’t be covered in your pass) that are easy to miss.
The Best Websites to Search for and Purchase European Rail Passes
This is the largest company in the world with the most options.
Website: Rail Europe (choose your country in the upper right of the page)
The same as the above company but for people of certain nationalities.
Website: Rail Europe
Also a large company with a lot of options.
Website: Inter Rail
A slightly smaller company, but it’s worth checking to compare.
Another smaller option, but once again worth searching on.
Is it always worth it to buy a European train pass?
While many people think that it’s always worth it to buy a rail pass if you will be doing a lot of train trips, this is not always true. Sometimes, buying each individual train ticket separately may actually be cheaper than getting a pass. Or, if you’re really trying to save money on transportation, don’t forget that Europe has a pretty extensive bus system between cities and countries (like Eurolines), which is often cheaper than the trains. If you still want to look into the pass, the best way is to compare the cost of the pass, the cost of each individual train trips, and the cost of each individual bus ticket. Then, add up all your options and see what comes out cheapest.
The best way to compare transportation options in Europe:
It is a platform where the prices and timetables for trains, buses, and planes are compared in a single search. Once you have your search results, you just click on the option of your choice and GoEuro will take you directly to the website of the train, bus, or airline you have chosen. GoEuro covers most of Europe and it makes the work of comparing all the different kinds of transportation between two cities much easier…even if they are located in different countries.
Website: Go euro
Other ways to calculate the price of individual train trips
If GoEuro couldn’t find or compare the specific route in Europe that you were searching for, you can try these websites below to find the cost of individual train tickets.
This site is very good because you can search for and buy tickets for trains all around Europe, not just within Germany.
This is another really good site that also sells passes plus tickets to a lot of those “special” routes in Europe, like the Eurostar (which goes underneath the English Channel) and high-speed trains.
Website: Voyages SNCF
And finally, if you are really into train travel, I’d recommend this website made by a guy crazy about train travel. He has information about train travel in almost all the countries of the world!
Seat61: Seat 61
The best rail pass for Japan
If you like to travel by train, want to venture out into Japan and ride the famous bullet trains, the Japan Rail Pass is the best option. This pass was created as a way to encourage tourism in Japan and depending on the style of your trip, it can save you a lot of money.
The JR Pass is a single ticket that you can use for a set period of time (7, 14 and 21 days) unlimited travel on the JR Railway in Japan. It can only be purchased by foreigners and must be obtained before your trip.
If you plan to visit several Japanese cities during your trip, this is the best way to get around quickly and economically as rail transport in Japan is impressive and one of the main ways to get around the country.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this overdose on trains. There is still a lot more information out there, but I tried to summarize what I found most important to travelers.
How do you like to get around Europe? Have you ever purchased a train pass before? Anything else you want to add? Leave your questions and comments below!
Happy (train) travels!!
Planning your next trip?
Then don’t forget travel insurance! You don’t want to get stuck paying a ton of money and ruining your trip if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance. WorldNomads is ideal for adventurous travelers, backpackers, or anyone looking to be protected during their trip. They cover almost every single activity you can image!
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at Momondo. It’s a flight aggregator that combines several other ticket search websites to make it easier for you to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world on a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!